Verizon today announced that they are joining Google’s Open Handset Alliance. The company joins national carriers Sprint Nextel & T-Mobile, which was an initial partner of the initiative.
Google’s Open Handset Alliance (OHA) is focusing on the development of Google Android, the Linux and Java-powered platform that they intend to embed in wireless devices. The open-ended nature of the platform allows partners to deploy Android on a broad range of devices, with shared development costs and patents among the partners. The buy-in to the platform is minimal: Companies must agree to not “fragment” or launch a competing distribution of Android, and must also agree to embed Google services where they are non-rival.
This move comes as part of a recent streak of open-access friendly initiatives from Verizon, a company previously regarded by most to be one of the most closed and draconian in regards to carrier and handset limitations. This month alone, Verizon has gone from forbidding foreign devices, prohibiting third-party software, and locking down device software, to supporting open-access to all third-party devices, software, and consumer applications on their network.
AT&T now stands alone as the only fully-national wireless provider to not have signed on with Google OHA. While the two companies have not yet issued official press releases, BusinessWeek is reporting that Verizon’s CEO (Lowell McAdam) as going on-record as embracing Google Android on Verizon’s network. It is not clear if Verizon is aiming for a CDMA deployment of Android in 2008, or waiting until 2009 for a simultaneous launch with their 4G network, LTE.
Update: Since our reporting early this morning, Verizon has clarified their previous comments. Verizon has not officially joined the OHA, but has committed to carrying Android devices from manufacturers. It is not clear if Verizon still plans to join OHA at a later date. However, it is clear that the distinction is only relevant to the collaborative resources that Google would gain internally… regardless, Verizon will be carrying Google Android devices in the future.